(Written by Cain Smith)
The European Championship is around the corner and there are many ideas about who should start for England against Croatia, on the 13th of June, in their opening match of the tournament.
Gareth Southgate has suggested that he already knows his starting team for Euro 2020 following England’s 5-0 drubbing of San Marino in the last international break. The ex-Middlesbrough manager also said: “I was asked if the game [against Croatia] was tomorrow would I know my best team, and the answer to that would be yes.”
The left side of England’s eleven could (and should) include three Manchester United players. Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford have all had great individual seasons for The Red Devils and their inclusion in the line-up for Euro 2020 would bring a strong left-sided dynamic to the national team.
From club to country
From Germany’s 2014 World Cup winning side, to Vicente del Bosque’s Spain team, there were clear club partnerships throughout these successful international teams.
The breath-taking duo of Andreas Iniesta and Xavi were amazing for Spain, not only because they were two incredibly gifted midfielders, but also because they knew each other inside-out, playing their club football together at Barcelona for most of their careers.
Then, the German side who won the World Cup in 2014 contained a Bayern Munich core, with the majority of the side being used to playing with each other week-in, week-out.
Quality and understanding of each other
A clear theme with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Man United team this season has been their left-side heavy build-up, with Maguire and Shaw being integral to how they progress the ball. Then, Rashford is the one who often brings the flair and speed to attacks, linking up with his left-back perfectly.
It would be more than helpful for Southgate to have not only the individual quality of the United trio on England’s left-hand side, but also their unity and understanding of each other.
While we saw Shaw assist Harry Kane in his first appearance back in the national team set-up since September 2018 against Albania, it was clear that he did not have the same kind of relationship with Raheem Sterling that he does with his United comrade.
Considering that there is limited time to train and develop connections with your international teammates, having partnerships throughout the pitch could be vital in England’s performance this summer. This could also mean that a right-flank of Kyle Walker and Phil Foden could be useful for for The Three Lions.
Maguire and Shaw seem like certainties to start, especially since it seems that the formation has been reverted to a four-at-the-back, rather than a three.
However, there is fierce competition on the left-flank alongside Rashford, but Southgate should look to consider who will work best in the side and Rashford has also shown that he is a reliable player to wear the England shirt with 11 goals and six assists in just over 2000 minutes played for his country.
If the Red Devils trio start together this summer, it will be likely that they bring their impressive interplay from club to country and that could help England; who have struggled to get ticking in some matches leading up to the tournament.
Featured image: Credit – Антон Зайцев, https://www.soccer.ru/galery/1057623/photo/736072